Pages

Friday, November 6, 2015

I Thank Thee… by Meg Gray

A very short and fictitious retelling of one woman’s journey aboard the Mayflower…

The westerly gales tossed the ship called Mayflower again. Salty seawater breached the edges, sending another spill of water to the lower deck. Sally Anne clutched her middle, praying to settle her stomach. She refused to add to the rank stench these tormenting waters were forcing her fellow passengers to leave behind in the cups and bowls the vulgar crewman found.

Another crashing wave—another jolt—sent her head back against the wooden hull. Pain shot through to her eyes. Screams and cries came from the small children on board. Hushes and shushes from their mothers and fathers collided with the vile words spat from the unpleasant crewman who saw fit to insult every passenger who fell ill.

Sally Anne’s eyes stayed closed, hands latched to her belly. John, her husband, laced a strong arm behind her, giving her head a soft place to rest. His other hand held fast to a beam as the boat rocked again. Water swirled at her ankles and her face rolled into the wet wool of John’s doublet. The stench of his unclean skin a save from the mounting smell of her fellow passengers’ revolting stomachs.

Whispered prayers clouded the congested cave of the ship’s lower deck. Words of thanks, praise, and requests for safe passage floated above Sally Anne’s head. For she had no words to give to the god her husband so desperately wanted to follow in this new land. A new land filled with savages and wilds. A place she didn’t know or understand or want to see. But it was his will and so she followed.

A fresh pouring of water sloshed through the grate in floor above. She felt a push against her hands. Her eyes flew open, the moons image framed in the between the slats. Dark clouds eerily passed over the single light in the sky as she uttered her own quiet prayer, “I pray thee Lord will see us safe.”

Wood cracked, tearing through the night like a dagger as the main beam split.

***

The light sea breeze teased the tendrils falling from Sally Anne’s coif. The passengers had been allowed a respite from the dark shallows below deck to dump their latrines and sniff the fresh air before being sent back to the bowels of the ship. The waters were calm and blue sky peeked from behind wispy gray clouds. Children ran past chasing a mouser who pursued a rat twice its own size. The spirits of the passengers had remained steady since the last terrifying night of the storm. The seas had yet to toss them again so violently. And once the iron screw had been placed to buttress the sagging beam, that surely would have meant their death had it not been repaired, it appeared the Lord had seen fit for them to reach the new land after all.

The journey had been long but the end was near. The crew anticipated spotting the shores any day now. Any day couldn’t come soon enough for Sally Anne as she turned for the dark opening and climbed below deck.

She wasn’t two feet down when the call came out, “Land. ‘Tis land ahead.”

***

Days had passed since the men first took to the shore, scouting and surveying for a proper place to build their homes. John was among them and every time he set off for the land, Sally Anne’s heart went with him anxious for her own turn to walk with the soil beneath her soles.

Each day the men returned without a place to settle, but she held fast to the hope that it would be found soon. She was in the place where her family would grow. It was time for her to get off this ship. Her waistcoat grew tighter by the day. The thump she’d felt in her womb the night of the great storm was a young one. She hadn’t yet told John, for fear his worry would overtake him. But soon. Very, very soon. Their child would be born in this new land—not aboard the ship as had the two women previous to her. Her child would have a proper home to be born into. And today was her chance to see the land for herself. She was going ashore.

Sally Anne lifted a basket of soiled clothing, waiting to board the small boat that would take her and a group of women to land to tend the laundry. Her heart could barely stand the anxious beat drumming inside her chest.

The ride over the sea was swift and gentle. Cold water bit into her skirt and stung with winter’s reminder that it would be here to stay soon enough. Lugging her wash basket through the shallows Sally Anne finally set foot on the sandy shore. With unsteady steps she dragged her woolen skirts from the icy sea and fell to her knees. She pressed her cheek to the stable ground and kissed it.

“I thank thee Lord for seeing us here,” she said.

The words echoed around her as every other woman in the group did the same. The feel of the solid ground beneath their feet like a promise fulfilled and nothing but gratitude fell from their lips. For each of them knew how desperately their circumstances could have changed upon those trident waters.

But now they were home, upon the soils that would house and feed their families and there was no greater gratitude for the blessings they’d been delivered.
 
***
 
Meg Gray uses a small world approach when crafting her contemporary romance novels, tying minor characters from one story into another—demonstrating how intertwined our human lives really are. The city streets and country roads she takes you down aren’t necessarily a structured series, but the stories are connected. Within the pages, her readers will catch glimpses of some of their favorite characters again and again. This is a concept that mirrors itself in our everyday lives. Our worlds are much smaller than we realize, often times we are unaware of the way our lives intersect with those around us. Visit www.meggraybooks.com to learn more.